Friday, November 25, 2016

Logical Relationships between two activities in Project Schedule Management

The four relationships as explained in PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition are:

1. Finish-to-start (FS). A logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot start until a predecessor activity has finished. 

  • The awards ceremony (successor) cannot start until the race (predecessor) has finished.
  • Land must be purchased before road building can start. 
Once this task finishes, we can start the next one. In a Finish-to-Start relationship, the predecessor must finish before the successor can start. In fact, the predecessor’s finish date determines the Successor’s start date.

2. Finish-to-finish (FF). A logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot finish until a predecessor activity has finished.

  • Writing a document (predecessor) is required to finish before editing the document (successor) can finish or 
  • Laying Asphalt must be completed before line painting can be completed.
We want these two tasks to finish at the same time. Once the predecessor task finishes, the successor task can finish.

3. Start-to-start (SS). A logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot start until a predecessor activity has started.

  • Level concrete (successor) cannot begin until pour foundation (predecessor) begins.
  • Road excavating must start before asphalt can be laid. 
We want these two tasks to start at the same time. Once the predecessor task starts, we can start the successor task.

4. Start-to-finish (SF). A logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot finish until a predecessor activity has started.

  • The first security guard shift (successor) cannot finish until the second security guard shift (predecessor) starts or 
  • Road excavating must start before line painting can be completed.
This task finishes when the next one starts, but not before then. Once the predecessor task starts, the successor task finishes.

References: PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition

Sunday, July 20, 2014

5 Strategies for Conflict Resolution

5 Strategies for Conflict Resolution

There is a saying, wherever there are more than two human beings politics prevail. Hence, it is very common to have conflicts between human beings working on for a project. PMBOK® Guide 5thEdition talks about five strategies for conflict resolution. Conflicts are nothing but a difference of opinion. Conflict resolution is nothing but to agree on a common consensus from where the project can be successfully planned, executed, monitored & controlled and closed. But why do we need not to have conflict is because we want happiness and as J.Krishnamurthy puts it Happiness is not to be bought, nor does it come when you go after it; but it is there when there is no conflict.1

Description as per PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition2
Withdraw/ Avoid
Retreating from an actual or potential conflict situation; postponing the issue to be better prepared or to be resolved by others.
This is a situation where we know that we can't win the argument, or we feel that it is not even worth arguing with the individual with whom we have the conflict just because we perceive that the individual is ignorant. This is a situation where the stakes are low and we know we can't win at all and save our reputation. May be sometimes we believe that the problem gets solved all by itself over a period of time.
Smooth/ Accommodate
Emphasizing areas of agreement rather than areas of difference; conceding one’s position to the needs of others to maintain harmony and relationship
In this kind of conflict you just smoothen the situation by maintaining harmony and you just tell the team members that the situation is not so bad as they think and smoothen it to control their tempers.
Compromise/ Reconcile
Searching for solutions that bring some degree of satisfaction to all parties in order to temporarily or partially resolve the conflict.
This is a lose-lose situation. This is a situation where both parties want to win, but in reality it is not possible. So both parties lose something. This happens when there is an equal relationship between the parties who are in conflict. And under any circumstance you want to avoid fight among the parties.
Force/ Direct
Pushing one’s view point at the expense of others; offering only win-lose solutions, usually enforced through a power position to resolve an emergency.
This is a win-lose situation. This is the situation where you feel that you are right and the other party is not right and you force your discretion on other party so that you gain power and you don’t give high priority to the relationship. Priority is given only to time and stakes are very high if the task is not finished in time.
Collaborate/ Problem  Solve
Incorporating multiple viewpoints and insights from differing perspectives; requires a cooperative attitude and open dialogue that typically leads to consensus and commitment.
This is a win-win situation. This is the situation where both parties trust each other and have enough time to tackle the situation. This kind of a situation is where the main objective is to learn from the situation and use it as an opportunity to explore and take some preventive or corrective action. In this case the maintenance of relationship is very important.

The Thomas / Kilmann model of Conflict resolving techniques is graphically represented in the figure below.

1.     J. Krishnamurti, Life Ahead - Part One Chapter 16
2.     PMBOK® 5th Edition, Page 283

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Types of Costs from PMP point of view

Types of Costs from PMP point of view.

There are four types of costs that PMP talks about. They are:
The costs that are directly related to the project which are directly ‘estimated’ into a particular project or directly billed to that project. So these are the costs that are directly attributed to a particular project.
Indirect costs are not directly related to and cannot be attributed directly to particular project. These are attributed most of the times for a group of projects. Hence, they cannot be billed directly to one particular project.
·         Costs incurred on material (like steel, wood, etc.) used for construction of building
·         Buying an equipment
·         Labour wages
·         Depreciation costs
·         Cost of materials that wear out over a period of time like paints, etc.
·         Supervisor’s salaries
·         Taxes etc.

These are the costs that are fixed and do not change throughout the project.
These are the costs that vary over a period of time based upon the amount of work done.
·         Costs incurred on Rent of place, equipment, etc.
·         Cost of material over a period of time
·         Cost of labour
·         Cost of fuel, etc.

 There is another type of cost called Sunk Cost. Sunk costs are those cost that have not added any value to the project. Sometimes change in the technology during the project may demand for the advanced technology and the costs that have been incurred on the old technology are of no value. So that cost has just sunk into the project because of the change or advancement in the technology. Or there can be instance where because of change in the market dynamics the project is not longer valid. Even in such case also the cost incurred in such project is treated as sunk cost. Sunk cost is the cost than cannot be recovered.

However, the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition talks only about Direct and Indirect costs.

If you are confused, please don’t worry. You are not alone. J

Monday, July 7, 2014

What is the difference between QA & QC from PMP point of view?

What is the difference between Quality Assurance and Control Quality from PMP point of view.

PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition
The process of auditing the quality requirements and the results from quality control measurements to ensure that appropriate quality standards and operational definitions are used1.
PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition
The process of monitoring and recording results of executing the quality activities to assess performance and recommend necessary changes1.
QA is the process of planning, systematic quality activities to ensure that the project will employ all those processes that are needed to meet or conform to the specific requirements mentioned in project SOW.
QC incorporates monitoring the results of the processes of the project to determine whether the processes comply with relevant quality standards and also identifies ways to eliminate the causes that are causing problems or non-conformances.
QA is preventive process. Hence all preventive and corrective actions are taken by QA process.
QC is more of a correction rather than corrective action. All defect repairs are corrected in QC after finding the defect.
QA is error prevention process
QC is error identification process
QA is a process of doing right the first time. Making the right deliverable.
QC is the process of inspecting whether the deliverable is conforming to the requirements mentioned in deliverable specifications after making the deliverable.
QA is process oriented
QA is product / deliverable oriented
QA is pro-active
QC is reactive
QA is line function
QC is staff function

There are 7 basic quality tools that we use in QC and they are:
1. Cause & Effect / Fishbone / Ishikawa diagrams,
2. Flowcharts,
3. Checksheets,
4. Pareto diagrams or charts,
5. Histograms
6. Control charts and
7. Scatter diagrams


1.     PMBOK® 5th Edition, Page 227

Sunday, July 6, 2014

How to pass PMP Exam in first attempt?


If anyone wants to pass PMP exam in first attempt there are five stages:
  • Stage 1: Getting familiarized with PMP & PMBOK®
  • Stage 2: Obtaining 35 PDUs by joining a 4 days formal training course
  • Stage 3: Going through all the study material that you have collected including the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition.
  • Stage 4: Attempt at least 10 mock tests to align your thought process along with PMBOK® thought process. Re-read all the weak areas that you get aware of while answering the mock tests.
  • Stage 5: On the exam day just stay cool and appear for the exam and come out with flying colors.

Remember for success there are only sure cuts and not shortcuts.

Stage1: Getting familiarized with PMP and PMBOK®
  • Google PMP and you will be able to find many articles. Read only structured articles to get some knowledge about PMP. You can download articles/tools from this blog also.
  • Go to and apply for membership. The membership allows you to obtain a copy of the latest PMBOK® guide.
  • Download this PMBOK® guide and glance through it for first 3 days. Prepare initial notes. Try to understand the structure. The 5 Process Groups and the 10 Knowledge Areas. 
  • Get familiarized with how to read the flowchart on page 60 of PMBOK® 5th edition. If you can understand this then it becomes easier how each process in each Knowledge area is contributing to other project processes. 
  • Try to understand and write the 47 processes at least 5 to 10 times given in Table 3.1 on page 61 of PMBOK® 5thedition.
  • Spend next 10 days to go through all the 10 knowledge areas.

Stage 2: Obtaining 35 PDUs by joining a 4 days formal training course
  • Mean while (out of the first 15 days) try to search for good PMP training provider. I went with “Knowledge Woods.” You can choose as per your convenience. Just Google it. Ensure that they are PMI R.E.Ps (REP stands for Registered Education Provider). You can know more information about what an REP is at You can also search whether the institute that you have chosen is an R.E.P or not at
  • Once you attend the complete course/training provided by them, you will earn your 35 PDUs (PDU means Professional Development Units). The training institute will provide you with 35 PDUs certificate. 
  • The training institute will also provide you study material, guidance on how to plan for your exam and also mock tests for a brief period of time.

Stage 3: Going through all the study material that you have collected including the PMBOK® Guide 5thEdition.
  • Since you now have all the study material, spend serious time going through the study material. I have gone through Head First PMP, PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition and study material provided by Knowledge Woods.
  • Spend a minimum of 15 days studying both Head First PMP and PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition.
  • At this stage based upon you confidence level, schedule your PMP exam at
  • Select the “Prometric Centre” nearest to your location at

Stage 4: Attempt at least 10 mock tests to align your thought process along with PMBOK® thought process.
  • Now start attempting mock tests.
  • As you progress through the mock tests you will get to know what your weak areas are. Go back to those weak areas and study again.
  • Try scoring a minimum of 80% in at least 3 to 5 tests out of 10.

So Stages 3 & 4 are iterative.

Stage 5: On the exam day just stay cool and appear for the exam and come out with flying colours.
  • Have a very good sleep previous night.
  • On the exam day stay cool.
  • Take a photo identity on the exam day to the “Prometric Centre” where you have scheduled the exam. I have taken my passport (this is always the best option).
  • It would also be apt to visit the “Prometric Centre” before your scheduled date so that you will get familiarized with the location, distance and the duration it will take for you to reach the centre. Calculate and schedule it in such a way that you reach the Prometric Centre at least 30minutes before your scheduled time.
  • Once all the formalities are completed you will be allowed to enter the exam hall. There are standard security procedures. Don’t get annoyed with any of the security procedures and simply oblige them.
  • Remember your aim is to stay cool and pass the PMP exam.
  • You will be provided a locker for keeping all your belongings. Except for the clothes that you wear and the Photo ID you are not allowed to take anything else inside the exam hall.
  • Before entering the exam hall you will be provided blank sheets and two pencils.
  • Once you sit in front of the allotted PC a tutorial will run. This tutorial is scheduled for 15 minutes. But you can finish it in 3 minutes. So after this first 3 minutes, you can dump your memory on the blank sheets provided for you. You can finish off your memory dump in 10 minutes if you wish to. To know what brain dump read the article on it provided in this blog.
  • Practice some slow and deep breathing exercises in the remaining two minutes so that you are ready and cool to take the exam.
  • Once 15 minutes gets completed the screen will automatically take you to the PMP exam screen and the countdown of 4:00:00 hours starts.
  • Go through all the questions and try to answer them in the first attempt. If you are spending more than 1.5 minutes on questions other than the calculations then mark it for later and attempt once you have gone through all the 200 questions. 
  • You can plan your breaks, but remember that the countdown does not stop during your breaks.
  • (I took two breaks, one after finishing the first 50 questions and the other after finishing 200 questions. For the second break I had 34 minutes left for completion.)
  • Once you have completed all the 200 questions, then go back and attempt all the marked questions and if you still have time then you can review the answers.
  • Once the scheduled 4:00:00 hours gets completed the screen will go blank and a survey questionnaire pops up. Answer the survey. 
  • After answering the survey the screen again goes blank and you will see your result popping up on the screen. At this time the Prometric Centre team will help you in getting a print out of the result of the PMP Exam.

For me the screen popped as “CONGRATULATIONS”… in first attempt and I scored “Moderately Proficient” in all 5 Process Areas.


If at any time you are low in your motivation please go through the following links and get motivated.

If you liked this article please leave your comments in the comments box. It will inspire me to write more articles like this.

PMP Formulae


Please feel free to download the pdf file of PMP formulae at this link  

1 sigma = 68.26%
EAC (no variances) = BAC/CPI
2 sigma = 95.46%
EAC (fundamentally flawed)=AC+ETC
ETC(flawed)=new estimate
3 sigma = 99.73%
EAC (atypical) = AC+BAC-EV
6 sigma = 99.99%
EAC (typical)=AC+((BAC-EV)/CPI)
ETC(typical)= (BAC-EV)/CPI
Percent complete=(EV/BAC)*100
% Spent=(AC/BAC)*100
PTA = ((Ceiling Price - Target Price) / Buyer's Share Ratio) + Target Cost
Based on BAC:
TCPI = (BAC - EV) / (BAC - AC)
Based on EAC:
TCPI = (BAC - EV) / (EAC - AC)

PERT 3-point estimate=(tP+4tML+tO)/6
PERT a-estimate=(tP-tO)/6
Order of magnitude estimate =
-25% to +75%
PERT activity variance=[(tP-tO)/6]2
Triangular estimate = (tP+tML+tO)/3
PERT Variance all activities = Sum=[(tP-tO)/6]2
Preliminary estimate=
-15% to +50%
FV=PV * (1+r)n
NPV=Select biggest number
Budget estimate= -10% to +25%
ROI=Select biggest number
IRR=Select biggest number
Final estimate = 0%
Payback period = Add projected cash inflows minus expenses until you reach the initial investment
BCR < 1 is bad;   BCR > 1 is good.
The project with the bigger BCR is the better one.
CBR = Cost/Benefit;  CBR > 1 is bad; CBR < 1 is good. The project with the smaller CBR is the better one.
Opportunity Cost = The value of the project not chosen
Exp. Value = Probability % * Consequence $
Communication checklist = [n (n-1)]/2
EMV = Probability * Impact in currency
Straight-line Depreciation:
Depr. Expense = Asset Cost / Useful Life
Depr. Rate = 100% / Useful Life
Double Declining Balance Method:
Depr. Rate = 2 * (100% / Useful Life)
Depr. Expense = Depreciation Rate * Book Value at Beginning of Year
Book Value = Book Value at beginning of year - Depreciation Expense
Sum-of-Years' Digits Method:
Sum of digits = Useful Life + (Useful Life - 1) + (Useful Life - 2) + etc. Depr. rate = fraction of years left and sum of the digits (i.e. 4/15th)
Control Limits = 3 sigma from mean
Control Specifications = Defined by customer; less than the control limits
Float on the critical path = 0 days
Pareto Diagram = 80/20

Time a PM spends communicating = 90%
Crashing a project = Crash least expensive tasks on critical path. JIT inventory = 0% (or very close to 0%)
Forward Pass
ES = EF of the predecessor node
EF = ES + Dur

ES       Dur     EF

LS      Float    LF
Backward Pass
LF = LS of the Successor
LS = LF – Dur
Slack = LF – EF = LS ES
Free Float = ES(Successor) - EF(Predecessor)

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